Sunday, September 2, 2012

Micole Coffeeandink, SJW

Micole Coffeeandink has a special place in the many “fails” of scifi’s social justice fandom. She helped “out” a woman who was then terrorized in her offline life. She helped drive a Cherokee writer from the science fiction genre. She fired the opening shots in the flamewar called Racefail 09, and at its end, she claimed people had “outed” her even though at the time she was using her full legal name in public posts on her LiveJournal.

And she may be the perfect model of a social justice warrior, a white female graduate of a very expensive private school—in her case, Harvard—who blogs about every form of privilege except wealth.

I met Micole sometime in the 1990s. She was Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s assistant at Tor Books, where she worked with two more people she attacked during Racefail, Teresa Nielsen Hayden and Kathryn Cramer. I don’t remember Micole well enough to recognize her if I saw her—I’m only sure she had dark hair—but she struck me as pleasant, intelligent, and capable. Like all beginners in publishing, she reminded me of myself when I was young and dreaming of a career in the world of books.

There is one detail that I think I remember from our first meeting, but it’s possible the fiction writer in me has invented it for dramatic purposes: When we were introduced, to be sure I’d heard correctly, I asked if her name was the far more common Nicole. With the proud patience of someone who often has to verify an unusual name that pleases her, she confirmed that it was Micole.

During her time at Tor, there was a copyediting problem with Freedom and Necessity, a book by my wife and Steve Brust. I can’t remember whether Micole was part of the problem or the solution. She’s mentioned on the copyright page, so she may have helped. The fact that I don’t remember shows it wasn’t a big deal. I only mention it to establish that our professional lives intersected.

She sold two short stories to anthology series that I wrote for, Terri Windling’s Bordertown and Jane Yolen’s Xanadu. I’m always pleased when people who want to write are succeeding. I thought she was on her way to becoming a colleague.

But she left Tor abruptly. She stopped selling stories. Both Xanadu and Bordertown had been published by Tor—whether that’s significant, I don’t know. Our careers stopped intersecting.

Micole and I were both fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so it’s possible I noticed her next at a site like Whedonesque, where her public profile from 2002 still has her last name and links her to a Coffeeandink blog on blogsot. Since K. Tempest Bradford says it’s important to get screen caps to preserve the historical record, here’s one:

(click to embiggen)

Though Micole abandoned the blogspot address, that profile may be the start of Google associating “Micole”, her last name, and “coffeeandink”.

She began following my LiveJournal, so I followed hers in turn. That’s probably when I noticed her habit of posting her full name, sometimes including her middle name or initial, in public posts on her LJ. Most of those posts were about convention appearances, but some, like this one (now “friends only”, were about her published work. Two examples saved by the Internet Archive (click for larger):

And she used her name with her LJ elsewhere. For example, for the first International Pixel-Stained Techno-Peasant Day, she shared on her LJ a story published under her legal name, and from 2007 to 2009, K. Tempest Bradford hot-linked Micole's legal name to her Coffeeandink LJ on two pages at Fantasy Magazine. Here's an example from WisCon:

(clicky biggy)

Micole and I quickly found we understood race in incompatible ways. In response to a criticism of Critical Race Theory, Micole joked, “It’s almost like critical race theory was developed in response to actual racial oppression!” To which I would note that the Nation of Islam developed in response to actual racial oppression, but this does not mean white people are devils created by a black scientist named Yakub.

In 2007, during Blog Against Racism Week, I wrote “parallel lives: a different race, a different class”. Micole was among the CRTheorists who were upset by it. When I tried to address her points, she banned me from her LJ.

I was surprised, and a little sad because I hadn't wanted to hurt anyone's feelings, but I was mostly amused. That was when I realized social justice fandom is a cult: those they can’t convert are excluded so their ideas won’t corrupt the group.

I forgot about her after that. I didn’t pay attention when she was helped in the outing of Zathlazip and the hounding of William Sanders. I even missed her opening shots in Racefail 09.

But she got my attention when she posted “Will Shetterly: Do Not Engage”.

For people who want the quick take on the pseudo-pseudonymity of Coffeeandink:

OMarch 1, she used her full name in a public post about the conventions she would be at, should anyone wish to find her.

But the next day, on March 2, 2009, Micole announced that anyone who included her name in the history of Racefail 09 was "outing" her.

Then, on March 9, a week after saying she had always been pseudonymous, she said, "I have locked down or edited some posts with identifying information in them." If she truly believed she was pseudonymous, why did she hide many posts, alter others, and change her user name?

Jace said, "The issue isn’t whether or not she wanted to establish a pseudonymous identity online, it’s that she went about doing it so badly she has no right to complain when it failed." If metaphors should not be used lightly, saying anyone "outed" Micole is an insult to every gay person who suffered for being outed.

As for why Micole wanted pseudonymity, she said:

At this point, I am mostly just fighting a losing battle to prevent my mother from finding my LJ via Google.
Hint for anyone else who doesn't understand search engines: If you don't want your mama to find you by Googling, don't use your legal name in public posts on your blog.